An automobile (plural: autos) is a road vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine to propel itself. It may also be powered by a battery or fuel cell. The word “automobile” is derived from the French verb auto, which means “to move”.

The modern automobile was invented in Germany by Karl Benz in 1885. His patented invention of an automobile using an internal combustion engine is recognized as the world’s first motor vehicle, though several other engineers in Germany were working on vehicles with this technology at that time.

While the early development of the automobile was slow, a number of innovations made it possible to build automobiles that were more practical and reliable than earlier designs. These included the design of reliable two-stroke engines that could be used to power a vehicle instead of a cart or horse-drawn carriage, and of the independent suspension system which allowed cars to be driven over rough ground.

Automobiles are an important part of everyday life. They save people time on their daily commutes and shopping trips, facilitate the movement of goods, and enable individuals to go out socially or visit friends and family.

However, they are also extremely expensive to maintain and can have a negative impact on the environment and society as a whole. Cars consume large amounts of energy and emit a great deal of pollution. Additionally, automobiles are a significant source of traffic fatalities and animal deaths on roads.

Various types of automobiles are available on the market today, including passenger, sports, and commercial vehicles. The majority of cars produced are gasoline-powered. Some are powered by a diesel engine.

There are many different factors that influence the design of an automobile. Some of these include the intended use, design, cost, and safety features.

The costs of producing a car can be enormous, including the initial capital cost, fuel, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, insurance, parking fees, tire replacements, taxes and disposal of the vehicle at the end of its life. Besides these direct costs, there are indirect societal costs related to automobile ownership as well.

For example, a car’s environmental footprint can be huge when it is used for long distances and travels over rugged terrain. It can also cause habitat destruction and pollution.

Automotive manufacturing is a global industry. The largest markets are in China, the United States, Japan, and Europe.

As a result, there are many car manufacturers who compete to make their products as best as possible. Some of the most successful companies are Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai.

One of the most influential inventors was Henry Ford who introduced the assembly line to mass-production in 1908 when he launched the Model T automobile. This new technique reduced production time by reducing the amount of labor required.

In addition, Ford’s invention of a moving assembly line eliminated the need for workers to walk from one stand to the next as they assembled the cars. This cut down on jam-ups and created a faster pace for the assembly process.